Favorite Chefs

Gifted Giver: Chef Sean Brock

We’re counting down the crucial pre-Christmas shopping days with a series called Gifted Givers, in which friends old and new share their thoughts on stylishly spirited giving and receiving.

Sean Brock, badass of traditional low-country cuisine of the American South, is currently enlightening the world that Southern food can be healthy as well as indulgent. You might know him from the TV show Mind of a Chef or as chef/partner at the restaurants McCrady’s, Husk, Husk Nashville and Minero–or from his new cookbook, Heritage. Now you will know him from the Gifted Giver series on the Nordstrom blogs.

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During last week’s Nordstrom Men’s Shop x GQ Magazine fall fashion show (benefiting the Detlef Schrempf Foundation for kids in need), we had the distinct pleasure of catching up with Mr. Schrempf himself—as well as a few local celebrities, who were good enough sports to brave the runway themselves in the name of a great cause.

Read their words of wisdom below—and see our exclusive backstage photos here.

DETLEF SCHREMPF—Philanthropist; Retired NBA All-Star.
[Pictured at left, with wife Mari, GQ’s Peter St. John, and Nordstrom men’s buyer Eric Akines.]

Men’s Shop Daily: How long did you play in the NBA?
Schrempf: “I played 16 years in the league, so that was a good career, but like everything else, life in sports ends sooner or later, so I’ve been fortunate to be in this market, and still have a strong presence with our foundation.”

MSD: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Schrempf: “Clothes make the man? [Laughs.] I’d say knowledge is power. You can never take what’s in your brain, so keep stimulating your brain. Keep studying, keep reading, keep looking at different things.”

MSD: You mentioned you were out of the country recently—what were you doing?
Schrempf: “I was in Nigeria 24 hours ago. I just did a trip for the US State Department, so we did a diplomatic trip doing camps, clinics, visiting schools, orphanages, things like that.”

MSD: Could you say a few words about your organization, the Detlef Schrempf Foundation?
Schrempf: “This is our 20th year, so we’ve been around awhile. We’ve raised over 14 million dollars. Our mission is pretty simple. We want to support children in need, and children’s families in need, in the Northwest. We try to have a large impact on some of the smaller organizations that are very vital to our community, supporting kids and families that otherwise don’t really have that support. We’ve been fortunate to have really strong sponsors and supporters over the years, even after my playing days. Even with Nordstrom, we didn’t start this [yearly fashion show] until I was done playing, and this is our seventh year. So we just have great, loyal supporters, and great partners, and we’re fortunate in that regard.”

 

ISAIAH THOMAS—Sacramento Kings Point Guard; Former UW Husky.

Men’s Shop Daily: Any words for University of Washington fans reading this?
Thomas: “Go Huskies. I bleed purple. I love the Huskies.”

MSD: How was it walking on the runway tonight?
Thomas: “It was great. Definitely out of my comfort zone, but once I started walking, and I got a few cheers here and there, I felt like I was on the basketball court. It’s for a great cause—the Detlef Schrempf Foundation. [Detlef] is a great friend of mine—one of my mentors that stays on me throughout the season. He asked me to do it, and I didn’t even think twice.”

MSD: Any gym tips for guys at home?
Thomas: “The only exercise tips I do, other than playing basketball, is I’ll be on the treadmill and the elliptical. I don’t do too much more. I just try to stay a little fit—because I already eat bad. Fried chicken. Bacon cheeseburger and some fries. I eat fast food all the time! So I gotta stay in the gym.”

 

MYCHAL COHEN—Frontman of Seattle Band Campfire OK.
[Pictured at right, with guitarist Andrew Eckes.]

Men’s Shop Daily: Where did your band name come from?
Cohen: “I was learning how to tattoo. I was making little silly drawings, and one of ’em was a campfire, and underneath it I just wrote ‘OK’ for some reason, and it was really dumb, and I was like, ‘that’s so funny!’…and then I ended up tattooing it on my leg. The lady who was apprenticing me was like, ‘You should name your band Campfire OK.’ And I was like, ‘Maybe!’ And two years later, I did. I was like, ‘It doesn’t mean anything, it doesn’t make any sense, it sounds kind of ridiculous–let’s do it.’ I mean, band names are ridiculous in general. The Beatles? The Monkees? Pink Floyd? What the hell does that mean?”

MSD: What are you most excited about tonight?
Cohen: “I’m actually really excited to walk on the runway. It’s really cool. None of us have really walked on a runway before. Well, most of the good-looking guys have.” [The celeb guests appeared alongside pro male models.]

MSD: Any thoughts on the cause we’re here to support?
Cohen: “Yes, the Detlef Schrempf Foundation. As they say: They inspire hope for children. They do a lot of good things for children in need, and this is a really cool way to give back. It’s nice to be a part of a cool foundation, with a really cool guy, and his wife is really sweet, too.”

 

STEVEN HAUSCHKA—Seattle Seahawks Kicker.
[…who kicked a game-winner in overtime on Sunday! Nice one, sir. He’s pictured at left.]

Men’s Shop Daily: Any words for Seahawks fans at home?
Hauschka: “I mean, they keep bringing it, there’s not much else to tell ’em. They’ve been so great the past couple years, and that 49ers game was amazing, setting a world record. So the sky’s the limit.”

MSD: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Hauschka: “Trust yourself.”

MSD: Is this your first time walking on a runway?
Hauschka: “No, actually, I did an equine fashion show two years ago—it was a horse fashion show. It was to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, so it was a great cause. I was wearing some westernwear. It was in a stable, too.”

 

BRIAN CANLIS—Owner, Canlis Restaurant.

Men’s Shop Daily: We heard a few members of our team paid you a visit at your restaurant.
Canlis: “Yes, a whole group of them. There was like, eight or nine. It was so much fun—we went up on the roof and we hung out and took photos, trying not to fall off. Then we went in the wine cellar and drank whiskey in the middle of the day.”

MSD: Was this a work day?
Canlis: “That’s the beauty of the restaurant business—I get to drink and call it work, in the name of the profession! Your co-workers were quote-unquote ‘off work’ that day.”

MSD: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Canlis: “What the heck?! [Thinks for a moment.] If you’re not growing, you’re dying. I think it’s really easy to stop growing, or to get stuck, or to stop taking risks. So I think to always push yourself, and to always lean out, outside your comfort zone. I’m actually going skydiving next week. Someone dared me, and I was like, ‘Yes! I have to do that.’ Because it’s growth, because it’s scary…and I don’t wanna do it. Actually in biology, scientifically, if you’re not growing, you’re dying. You’re either doing one or the other. So I think to always challenge yourself to keep learning is the most exciting thing to wake up to.”

MSD: What’s a kitchen essential every man should have?
Canlis: “A great copper pot. Spend money. Falk is my favorite. You should have a beautiful pot that always lives on your stove, not under, because A) it’s beautiful, B) it’s so beautiful you want to use it, and C) the best type of cooking is the cooking you do long and slow, over the entire day. So if you get a beautiful pot, you’ll want to fill it with delicious things. And when you cook long and slow, it’ll taste better—plus, your place will always smell great.”

 

MSD: What’s a meal you recommend cooking for a date?
Canlis: “Besides breakfast? No I’m just kidding. [Laughs.] Ham and eggs! My favorite is a little bit cheesy, but I like doing homemade pizzas. I like having it be interactive, not me cooking for her—but like, making the dough together, getting a whole bunch of ingredients, and being able to actually get your hands dirty. And you get to make individual, custom, miniature things, which is really fun.”

MSD: What was your favorite part about tonight?
Canlis: “I was shocked by the logistics. I had no idea that for a 20-minute show, there’s a thousand moving parts. I couldn’t believe it. I also didn’t know so many beautiful men could be in so small of a space at one time. And it’s really intimidating. It’s like being in the middle of the movie Zoolander, and not belonging. I kept asking other male models…working on my Le Tigre or my Blue Steel…So when I finally hit the runway, I just had to burst into laughter in total embarrassment. I couldn’t…I smiled like a small child receiving a bowl full of candy because I couldn’t be serious. But it was really fun. I mean, everyone is laughing and taking pictures. You’re supposed to stay serious during that? That’s the hardest work of a male model right there: not breaking a smile. I lasted about three seconds.”

MSD: Canlis restaurant has been in your family for a long time, right?
Canlis: “Sixty-three years. I started for my dad, washing dishes. I was bussing tables. And then he had me go work at other restaurants around Seattle. And then I left home for about 12 years, and I went all over the world, and I never thought I’d come home. But I was drinking whiskey, for breakfast, in Scotland, with my brother Mark, and he convinced me to come back to Seattle and run the company with him. I’m not quite sure how he did that, but I’m glad he did. That was about seven or eight years ago, and it’s been so much fun ever since.”

 

CHECK OUT MORE PHOTOS FROM OUR NORDSTROM MEN’S SHOP
x GQ FASHION-SHOW FUNDRAISER.

 
 

[Photos: Schrempf, Thomas and Canlis by Justin Abbott; Campfire OK via @campfireok on Instagram; Hauschka by Kirby Ellis. Interviews by Justin Abbott.]

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Style Profiles. In honor of our twice-a-year Men’s Shop Catalog dropping this month, we decided to profile 6 real men of style and substance. Here, cool-under-pressure chef Shaun McCrain.

Every man should know his way around the kitchen: how to take over the tongs at a friend’s barbecue, pull off your grandma’s family-secret marinara, whip up a chivalrous morning-after omelette…you know—the basics.

Professional chefs like Shaun McCrain, on the other hand, can turn the simple act of eating food into a mind-altering experience. Visit McCrain’s Seattle restaurant, Book Bindery, and although the humble maestro insists his MO is simplicity, the five-way flavor combinations in his modern twists on comfort food are enough to induce a quadruple take—and general feelings of astonished well-being.

We spoke to chef McCrain about paying dues in Paris and New York, design principles as applied to plating, and real-life kitchen tips that every man can use.


[Chef Shaun McCrain at his Seattle restaurant, Book Bindery.
Scotch & Soda sweater, coming soon | Wallin & Bros. shirt
J Brand Jeans | Onitsuka Tiger sneakers]

FARM TO TABLE. “I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. We lived on a small farm, raised our own meat, had a lot of vegetables. I was always around food without realizing it. My dad doesn’t cook. He was like, ‘I’ll just let Shaun do it, and if he messes up, we have more we can go pick.'”

TRIAL & ERROR. “Book smarts help you understand what you’re doing. Street smarts get your hands and body moving in the right direction. It’s hard to be able to physically do what you’ve read. You’ve gotta burn some things before you figure out how to cook them right.”

 

AMERICAN IN PARIS. “I sent my résumé to what I thought were the top 20 restaurants in Paris and got four responses. Three of them being, ‘Sorry, we don’t have room,’ and one being, ‘Sure, show up, work for free.’ That was my foot in the door.”

LIVE AND LEARN. “I left Seattle thinking I knew everything. I was 19 or 20 years old. I went to a bigger city, a nicer restaurant, and realized how much I didn’t know. It was very humbling…but I decided that if I really want to progress and learn, that I need to constantly be humbled—so I can learn from the best.”

FIRST IMPRESSIONS. “Plating and presentation are important, because they’re the first thing a person sees. I like to do bright colors, clean lines, something that’s very appealing to the eye. And then, when you do take that first bite—it should taste even better than it looks.”

CONTRAST AND COMPLEMENT. “I think items should complement each other. It’s a lot about textures, so if you have one thing that’s soft, then I want something else that’s gonna bring some crunch…a little burst of pickled onion, or a crispy crouton.”

WHY I LOVE MY JOB. “The craziness of it. Every day is different. You don’t know if the truck carrying your lamb up from Oregon broke down, and you’re scrambling to find a replacement, or your dishwasher breaks, or you have a high-profile guest coming in who you know likes to eat certain things. So it sparks that fuel, that drive of always keeping busy, always trying to stay on top. It’s easy to fall behind in the kitchen unless you have that ‘stay on top of it’ kind of attitude.”

THE BEST THING I EVER ATE. “It was at a Japanese restaurant in New York, called Masa. Simple sushi rice, rolled in shaved Italian white truffle, with just a pinch of fresh-grated yuzu and a little salt. Just simplicity at its best, but the ingredients were prepared perfectly.”

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MY MORNING ROUTINE. “A cup of coffee…and maybe a Pop-Tart. Strawberry. Frosted. I spend all day walking around tasting things; it kind of curbs your appetite. [The staff and I] don’t sit down and eat a family meal until about 4:00. So in the morning, I just need to put something in me, whether it’s sugar or coffee or whatnot.”

WHAT TO PACK FOR LUNCH. “When I think of lunch, I always think of sandwiches. They don’t need to be boring. Go to the store, and buy some great charcuterie and good bread. Most of the time, those items are sold in portions that are more than one sandwich worth, so you’ll have enough for a couple days—or a very large sandwich.”

THE SECRET TO A GOOD SANDWICH. “The bread. The crust…whether it’s more of a rustic style with pieces of grain, or if it’s just a nice, crisp baguette that kind of snaps in your mouth when you eat it.”

 

HOW TO IMPRESS A DINNER DATE. “First, find out what they like. Nowadays, there are so many dietary restrictions, food allergies. Subtly figure out. Ask questions. Have an idea, rather than going in like, ‘Hey, I like steak, so I’m gonna cook steak’—and then finding out she’s pescatarian. That’s a date that’s not gonna end well.”

AND IF YOU BLOW IT… “Part of learning and growing with someone is making those mistakes. It could be the best meal they’ve ever had, or it could be terrible—but the whole experience of going through the process of doing something for someone is what it should be about.”

—  —  —

Next time you’re in Seattle, be sure to sample Shaun’s work at Book Bindery.
(We recommend the steak. And the duck.
And definitely the Stumptown-coffee semifreddo.)

—  —  —

Shop: Shaun McCrain’s favorite items
Read more: Style Profiles

 
 

[Food photos courtesy of bookbinderyrestaurant.com.]

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Two of our favorite Seattle chefs—Brian McCracken (right) and Dana Tough of Spur Gastropub, Tavern Law, and The Coterie Room—were kind enough to share a recipe that will serve you well at holiday meals during the festive week ahead.

These culinary artisans are perpetually devising new ways to update classic food and drink with a modernist twist (last time we collaborated with them, one of their signature cocktails called for DIY Earl Grey-infused gin)—so it’s no surprise that their signature holiday dessert comes complete with an element of the unexpected: You bake it in the microwave.

“Here’s a fun recipe that makes individual portions of chocolate cake using a whipped-cream siphon and the microwave. You artfully crumble the cake out of its paper cup, and it looks amazing on the plate.”

Read on, gather some ingredients (and N2O cartridges) this weekend, and prepare to wow your holiday guests come Christmas dinner.

 

CHEFS McCRACKEN AND TOUGH’S
MICROWAVED CHOCOLATE SPONGE CAKE

3 Egg Whites
1 Egg Yolk
1 oz. Milk Chocolate
2 0z. Dark Chocolate
1/2 cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 cup Canola Oil
1/2 cup Cake or Pastry Flour
Pinch of Salt

1. Place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in microwave for a 90 seconds, or until fully melted.

2. Meanwhile, place eggs, sugar, oil, and salt into a blender, and blend for 30 seconds. Add melted chocolate, and blend for another 30 seconds.

3. Pour into mixing bowl, and then whisk sifted flour into mixture.

4. Immediately pour into a 1-pint whipped-cream siphon. Screw on lid, add one N2O cartridge. Shake and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature.

5. Fill an 8-ounce paper cup half-full with batter, and microwave on high for 40 seconds.

6. Let sit for one minute, crumble cake out of paper cup onto a plate, and serve immediately with vanilla or caramel ice cream and your favorite caramel sauce.

 
 

[Chefs Brian McCracken and Dana Tough have been recognized by Food & Wine Magazine, GQ, Gayot and more. Please visit their official website for more information.]

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